Amy took great pains to make her prom night special in a way that worked for her – she got a dress that she loved, she had her hair done, she did her make-up. It was her dream night. Well, only if you think that crying in the bathroom, being repeatedly body shamed by a teacher, and then spending the rest of the night wearing the vice principal’s jacket over her dress is a “dream.” What the hell happened?
If you guessed “inappropriate policing of girl’s bodies, with a special emphasis on girls who aren’t thin” you win the prize. And the prize is to see this bullshit for what it is.
Dress codes can be really problematic, especially when they suggest that girls are responsible for the distractions/attractions/ actions of men, and enforcement policies that suggest that policing how girls look and what they wear, including removing them from their educational environment, in an effort to provide boys with a “distraction free” environment are misguided and problematic on a number of levels, including reinforcing rape culture. For this post, I’m going to focus on the issues that happen when dress codes are enforced in sizeist ways, through the lens of Amy’s prom night.
This story has been surrounded by some confusion because when it first went viral, it was accompanied by a picture of Amy from a photoshoot that she did prior to Prom. In that photoshoot there was a lace panel in the front of her dress that wasn’t there at the prom (her parents said in a statement that it broke.) Here is the original story as told by Tiffany Taylor, a parent of one of Amy’s friends, on Facebook:
This is Bronte’s friend, Amy. Last Friday night was her senior prom. She spent time looking for the perfect dress, got her hair done and was meticulous in putting her make up on. It’s an exciting time! She proudly had her pictures made, and why wouldn’t she? She looks like a princess! Arriving at the prom, she was stopped at the door. She would not be allowed in because her dress was “too revealing”. After spending some time in the restroom crying, she was told she could go in if she wore the vice principal’s tux jacket, which mind you, did not cover her chest. She was told by a teacher repeatedly “Us big girls gotta cover up”. This young girl was SHAMED for having breasts. Her excitement during this memorable time of her life turned into embarrassment at the hands of adults who are supposed to be leading her. SHAME on YOU, Maryville. I think you look amazing, Amy. ❤️
Classmates responded, discussing the dress as Amy wore it on prom night (and not as it was pictured in her photoshoot.)
Couldn’t have said it better myself. My own dress had quite a few cut outs in the back, yet that wasn’t too much. I saw other girls with dresses lower cut and yet they weren’t called out. I was disappointed in how it was handled for sure. Love you Amy.
My dress had an open back almost all the way down to my hips, and not ONE teacher said a word to me. One of them even COMPLIMENTED me! And with my hair in an updo and no jacket to cover it, I was let in without hassle. I seriously hope you get justice for this Amy. Your dress was definitely one of the classier ones compared to the thigh-high slits and sheer tops
I have seen a number of “reasons” why people think this should be ok and I want to address them one by one.
Her dress was more revealing than is shown in this picture, they had every right to ask her to cover up.
While the picture that accompanied the original story showed the dress with an extra piece of lace, according to accounts from her own classmates, her dress was not more revealing than the dresses of other girls. Further, they school didn’t tell her that she was violating a specific dress code rule. In fact, a teacher kept highlighting the fact that it wasn’t about her dress, but about her body, by telling her “Us big girls gotta cover up.” I don’t know about you, but I remember hoping to get a corsage on prom night, not some teacher’s internalized body image issues.
No girls should dress like this!
Setting aside that nobody making this comment is the boss of how all girls dress, the point here is that some girls dressed like this with no problem or push back, while Amy was forced to wear some dude’s tux jacket (which, as Tiffany pointed out did not cover the “offending” area.)
That shouldn’t have happened because [she’s beautiful, she’s not that fat, she looks great in that dress.]
It doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t think she’s beautiful, or thinks that she isn’t “that fat” (and that being “that fat” is a bad thing,) or if they hate the way she looks in that dress. That’s not the issue here. Even if you believe in dress codes, the idea is not that they enforce girls approximating the stereotype of beauty, or being “attractive” based on any definition. So either the dress is appropriate for everyone, or not appropriate for anyone.
You may remember this happening last year to Alexus Miller-Wigfall who was given a of in-school suspension for wearing a prom dress that was “too revealing” based on the school dress code. (You read that right, the school thought that the best way to “punish” her for what she wore to an extra-curricular activity was to remove her from the classroom.)
You can check out the pictures below and see for yourself:
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